Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

76ers Reportedly Aim to Emulate Knicks

I found an interesting/weird/heartening story over at today. According to SI hoops maven Chris Mannix, The Philadelphia 76ers are looking over the shoulders of the New York Knicks to try to steal our answers. And, not the 1969-1970 Knicks. The 2008-2009 Knicks.

With expensive free-agent acquisition Elton Brand sidelined, Sixers GM Ed Stefanski wants the Sixers to run, gun and hoist up some more three pointers in hopes of keeping afloat. According to Mannix, he wants them to play like D'Antoni's Knicks. Which is sort of weird since D'Antoni's Knicks are 13-20 while the Sixers, under neophyte playcaller Tony DiLeo, are 15-20.

I was confused but bemused when I read the article. I forwarded it a Philly resident and he experienced a total mind blow. Apparently, he has little interest in his team playing like my team. Just a few months ago the 76ers were on the cover of Sports Illustrated's NBA Preview issue (at least the edition that ended up in my mailbox) and were a trendy pick to win the Eastern Conference. Fast forward to the first week of 2009 and they're under .500 and purposefully trying to play like the Knicks.

Of course, it worth noting that none of the quotes in the story from anyone associated with Sixers actually mention the Knicks or D'Antoni. So, it seems that Mannix made the "Be Like Mike (D'Antoni)" connection himself when he was told Philly wanted to pick up the tempo and add more perimeter shooting. Which is fine. And makes sense. Mostly. Because if any NBA team wants to play fast and aim to hit 10 three pointers a night in this era then they will likely bring to mind the Seven Second or Less philosophy that D'Antoni employed in Phoenix with Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire.

In this regard it makes sense to mention the Knicks, who are in their first year under D'Antoni and doing their bestest to play fast and well. But, really the Sixers don't want to be more like the Knicks. They actually want the same thing as the Knicks. They want to be like the 2006-2007 Suns. Because the Knicks still aren't very good on many nights. And, nobody should want to be like them.

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